UN Issues Warning Over ‘Time-Bomb’ Oil Tanker

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The UN appealed for the last $14 million needed to try and prevent a stricken oil tanker from triggering a disaster off Yemen that could cost $20 billion to clean up, says an article published on Today Rtl.

Floating storage platform

The decaying 45-year-old FSO Safer, long used as a floating storage platform and now abandoned off the rebel-held Yemeni port of Hodeida, has not been serviced since Yemen was plunged into civil war more than seven years ago.

If it breaks up, it could unleash a potentially catastrophic spill in the Red Sea.

Humanitarian coordinator

David Gressly, the Nations’ resident and humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, leads UN efforts on the Safer.

“Less then $14 million is now needed to reach the $80 million target to start the emergency operation to transfer oil from the Safer to a safe vessel,” said Gressly’s communications advisor Russell Geekie.

Volatile currents and strong winds

“We’re deeply concerned. If the FSO Safer continues to decay, it could break up or explode at any time,” he told reporters in Geneva, via video-link from Sanaa.

“The volatile currents and strong winds from October to December will only increase the risk of disaster. If we don’t act, the ship will eventually break apart and a catastrophe will happen. It’s not a question of if, but when.”

Worst ecological catastrophes

He said the result would potentially be the fifth largest oil spill from a tanker in history, with the clean-up costs alone reaching $20 billion.

The Safer contains four times the amount of oil that was spilled by the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, one of the world’s worst ecological catastrophes, according to the UN.

“It would unleash an environmental, economic and humanitarian catastrophe,” said Geekie.

Spill destroy ecosystems

The ship contains 1.1 million barrels of oil.

The UN has said a spill could destroy ecosystems, shut down the fishing industry and close the lifeline Hodeida port for six months.

Ticking time bomb

The Safer is unusable, is fit only for scrappage and nothing on it works, said Geekie.

“This is a ticking time bomb,” he warned.

“You don’t want to go and smoke a cigarette on the deck, I can tell you that much.”

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Source: Today Rtl

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